223 W. College Ave.
Bluffton, OH 45817
June-August: 10 am
Sept.-May: 10:30 am
ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL
June-August: 9:00 am
Sept.-May: 9:30 am
CHILDREN’S SUNDAY SCHOOL
June-August: 10 am
Sept.-May: 10:30 am
ST. JOHN’S UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
223 West College Avenue, Bluffton, OH 45817
May 9, 2021
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Rev. Katherine Beckett (567-226-1009) Church (419-358-5641)
No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!
Prelude “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” Robert J. Hughes
*Song of Preparation “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” P. 59
(vs. 1 & 3)
*Call to Worship+
One: As we gather, may we open our hearts to receive newness of life.
Many: We come with hope for renewal.
One: In our time of worship, may we be inspired by God’s wisdom.
Many: We come seeking to learn and to draw closer to God.
One: Come, let us worship, as the beloved children of God.
we come as your children to grow and learn,
because you are our divine vine grower.
God, we desire for you to abide within us,
and for your grace to be revealed anew daily.
As your branches, we ask you to nourish us
for continued growth.
May you transform our hearts and minds
as we hear your Word, sing your praises,
and engage in holy dialogue through prayer.
May you help us to bear good fruit
through the vine of Jesus Christ.
In Whose name we pray, Amen.
*Hymn “O, How I Love Jesus” P. 109
(vs. 1 & 3)
Time with the Children
Prayer for Illumination++
God, you have given us your Word for a light to shine upon our path; grant us so to meditate on that Word, and to follow its teaching, that we may find in it the light that shines more and more until the perfect day; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reading from Church History Acts 8:26-40
Epistle Reading 1 John 4:7-21
Gospel Reading John 15:1-8
One: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Many: Thanks be to God!
Message God is Love Reverend Katherine Beckett
Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
*Hymn “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” P. 393
(vs. 1 & 4)
Invitation to the Table
*Prayer of Confession
O God, giver of life, we confess the times when we fail to
love our neighbors as we love ourselves. God, forgive us
when we ignore or we fail to see our neighbors in need.
Abiding God, also forgive us when we reject love
from others and shut down completely. As we confess the
times when we did not tend to our own needs, and denied
ourselves of your forgiveness and grace. In our failures, we
have refused your invitation to grow closer to you. In our
confession, O God, we pray your abiding love
be shown through the ways we love more fully. Amen.
*Words of Assurance
Words of Remembrance
Prayer of Consecration
Sharing of the Elements
Prayer of Thanksgiving
*Closing Hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” P. 358
(vs. 1 & 4)
(Please be seated)
*Postlude “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart” arr. Lani Smith
+adapted from Worship Ways
*Please stand if you are able.
Welcome to St. John’s on the sixth Sunday of Easter! Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mother’s worshiping with us today, and may all who worship here be blest with the love of our God.
Thank you to everyone who provided flowers today for planting around the church lawn. The plants will be placed in the ground during the week.
This Week at St. Johns:
• Tuesday, May 11—Women’s breakfast at Arby’s 10 a.m.
• Wednesday May 12—Men’s breakfast at Arby’s 8:30 a.m.
On Sunday, May 16, the coffee hour returns following worship.
The May issue of The Serendipity is available on the hutch for those who do not receive it by email. Extra copies are also available.
Attendance for worship on Sunday, May 2, was 29 persons.
On Sunday, May 23, which is also Pentecost Sunday, St. John’s will receive contributions for Strengthen the Church.
The Strengthen the Church offering supports the expansion of ministry and growth of UCC local congregations. Your support of this offering will help the UCC fulfill its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities.
As God calls our congregations to be the church in new ways, your generosity will plant new churches, awaken new ideas in existing churches and develop the spiritual life in our youth and young adults.
Sunday, May 9, Flowers for Mother’s Day
This May, geraniums and other flowers will be planted around the church lawn. If you are interested in providing one or more plants for this project, please bring them to the church on Mother’s Day Sunday, May 9.
Sunday, May 16, Special Music
Barbara Plaugher and her daughter, Mary Plaugher, are preparing organ-piano duet music as their special offering for us on the third Sunday,
Thank you, Barbara, and Mary for sharing your talents and enhancing our music ministry.
Sunday, May 23, Pentecost
Please remember to wear something red on Sunday, May 23, as we celebrate the Holy Spirit descedning like tongues of fire.
Strengthen the Church offering will also be taken on May 23.
Sunday, May 30, Trinity Sunday
We celebrate the three in one–Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Monday, May 31, Memorial Day
Take time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy our freedom.
Prayer is something we all probably could do more often. Prayer brings us into deeper communion with God. Being in communion with God has a positive effect on us. It is hard to get into the habit of spending time with God each day. And once we do get in the habit, it is so easy to get away from it.
One way to get into, and keep the habit, is to make it a part of our routine when we first get up. Whether it is in the morning, afternoon, or night, making prayer part of our waking up routine sets our day’s path on a positive step. I don’t know about you but when I don’t pray as one of my first things in the morning, my day just doesn’t seem to go as well.
Another way to add more prayer to our day is to make it part of our everyday tasks. I tend to pray every time my car comes to a stop – whether it be at a stop sign, a stop light or whatever reason, I take a few moments to lift up a short prayer. I have several friends who use the time they spend cleaning the house or gardening as prayer time. Say a short prayer before every meal. Pray the Lord’s Prayer every time you wash your hands – it is the right length to keep you washing long enough.
Pray with someone. I have a prayer partner and we pray together about once a week over the phone. It helps each of us with our commitment to pray, to pray together. Plus, we can share what is going on in our lives so the other can hold us in prayer throughout the week.
One thing that has helped me is that I have an app on my phone for prayer. There are several good apps available if you have a smartphone or computer.
I start each morning with Lectio Divina prayer, which is on my app. Lectio Divina is Latin for “Divine Reading.” This way of praying begins with reading the scripture aloud, meditating on it and then praying with it. As you listen to the scripture, listen for a word or phrase that stands out to you. Then spend some time meditating on that word or phrase and then pray about it. This whole process helps me move from studying the text to experiencing it as the living word that it is. The app I use has someone read the scripture before offering the other prompts. I have found that I am able to delve deeper into the text this way than when I read it myself.
How do you pray? Lectio Divina is a more complex prayer method. Yours doesn’t have to be so complicated. Short, simple prayers have a profound impact on my day as well. Take the time to get into the habit of daily prayer if you are not doing so already. It will profoundly impact your day.
Rural Life Sunday/Mother’s Day
Church coffee hour is as important a weekly ritual as church worship. On this Rural Life Sunday, consider how your church community is intentional about making relationships with the farmers who produce the treats you enjoy each Sunday morning. Through Equal Exchange coffee, your church can celebrate its relationship with farmers every day, not just on Rural Life Sunday.
*”Started in 2004, the UCC Fair Trade Project allows your congregation to partner with the United Church of Christ and Equal Exchange in building fair trade for small farming communities by serving fairly traded coffee, tea and cocoa, and chocolate, snacks, and olive oil for justice at fellowship hour on Sundays.
This project is a way for your congregation to join hands with communities in the developing world. As Christians we can address a consumer dilemma by buying coffee and other commodities that are fairly traded. Through the project, small farmers and their families gain more control over their lives, earn a fairer share of income, have access to credit and technical support, and gain a trading partner they can trust. Members of your congregation can learn about consumption habits that support small scale farmers and workers throughout the world and encourage careful stewardship of God’s creation. At fellowship hour, you will be taking action in a spirit of love.
Through the UCC Fair Trade Project, you get access to Organic, fairly-traded products at discounted wholesale case prices, ensuring that more of the money you spend on coffee and other products reaches the hardworking farmers who actually grow them.”* (https://equalexchange.coop/ucc)
Find out more about how your church community can partner with Equal Exchange at https://equalexchange.coop/ucc.
Save the dates of Sunday, July 18 through Thursday, July 22, 2021 for the Bluffton Community Vacation Bible School.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church hosts this year’s VBS. The theme is Rocky Railway: Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through. Further information will be shared as plans progress.
At the current time, there are enough shoe boxes for the VBS projects.
Throughout the month of April, St. John’s UCC collected contributions for Church World Service blankets which cost $10.00 each.
In 2020, congregations provided 21,855 CWS blankets to families impacted by the pandemic, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other crises including homelessness and poverty.
St. John’s helped “blanket the world with love” through continuation of our generous giving to this worthwhile project. A total of 68 blankets were purchased by St. John’s UCC in April 2021.
Remember, a Church World Service blanket is not just a blanket.
Sunday, May 2, in-person worship begins at 10:30 a.m. Face masks and social distancing are required. Guest speaker is Ron Geiser who will be speaking on “The Truth Makes Free”.
One Sunday School Class will meet in Oppermann Hall at 9:30 a.m. each Sunday. Social distancing and face masks are required.
The men’s breakfast group meets on Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. The first and third Wednesday of each month they will meet at Arby’s. The second and fourth Wednesday of each month they will meet at LuLu’s. When there is a fifth Wednesday, they will meet at LuLu’s.
The ladies’ breakfast group meets on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. at LuLu’s. St. John’s ladies are welcome to attend.
Holy Communion will be celebrated on Sunday, May 9, and the traditional collection of geraniums for Mother’s Day will take place on that Sunday.
You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page. There are many interesting articles posted every day. “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!